Africa’s largest statue of Jesus was unveiled in the Imo state village of Abajah today.
The 8.53 metre (28 foot) tall “Jesus de Greatest” statue commissioned in 2013, was built by a Chinese company and carved in white marble.
Standing barefoot with arms outstretched, the 40 ton statue towers over St. Aloysius Catholic Church in the village.
More than 100 priests and hundreds of Catholic worshippers attended the statue’s official unveiling today.
It was commissioned by Obinna Onuoha, a local businessman who hired a Chinese company to carve it and placed it in the grounds of a 2000-capacity church that he built in 2012.
In his homily at a Mass before unveiling the statue, presiding bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma said it would be a “very great symbol of faith” for Catholic worshippers and passers-by alike.
“It’s the biggest statue of Jesus on the continent,” said Onuoha, the 43-year-old chief executive officer of an oil and gas distribution company.
“Definitely pilgrims will come, ” he said.
Forty three year-old Obinna Onuoha, the CEO of Premier Petroleum Limited who financed the erection of the statue said he had a dream in 1997 to build it.
When his 68-year-old mother fell seriously ill a few years ago, she made him promise that he would build a church if she survived.
He built it also in Abajah.
Obinna’s company Premier Petroleum Limited was founded in 1995 and has offices in Abuja, Lagos and a factory in Osisioma Abia state .
It produces VIVA branded petroleum pruducts, such a s grease, engine oil. The Company also provides onshore and offshore supply logistics.
Obinna had worked for Texaco Nigeria Plc. (Chevron Texaco) in the areas of Product Distribution & Logistics (South Eastern Region- Nigeria)
He graduated from York St Johns University (United Kingdom) where he studied Leading Innovation & Change. He also holds a degree in Applied Business Management from Harvard Business School (OPM46) Cambridge, Massachusetts. (USA). In his biographical sketch on www.linkedin.com, Mr. Obinna says he was an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, and a member of the Harvard Business Review.
He is married and has four children.
*With reports by AFP